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Melting pot?

from the religious-differences dept.
This interactive BBC story about the Dutch filmmaker that was killed by Muslim extremists for criticizing Islam really got me thinking. The American idea of a melting pot is not shared by many other countries. The people in this piece express different views about the situation in the Netherlands in the aftermath of the murder. How do think the views they express compare or contrast to the American ideal? What do you think of the situation? Is America really a melting pot? Should we be?

Here's an interesting article

Here's an interesting article by Michael Ledeen about the situation in the Netherlands. To quote:

The killing of Theo van Gogh is a textbook case of what happens when a tolerant but confused society takes political correctness to its illogical extreme. For Mohammed B. did not choose terrorism all by himself. He was indoctrinated and recruited in a mosque where he was pumped full of the Wahabbi doctrine "predominant in Saudi Arabia." The murder of van Gogh was an instant replay of the many murders carried out by Zarqawi and his followers in Iraq, extolled by fanatical Muslim Imams. As Allam reminds us, not all mosques are fundamentalist, extremist, or terrorist, but all the fundamentalists, extremists, and terrorists got that way in mosques.

The Dutch — like every other European society I know — were unwilling to recognize that they had potentially lethal enemies within, and that it was necessary to impose the rules of civil behavior on everyone within their domain. The rules of political correctness made it impossible even to criticize the jihadists, never mind compel them to observe the rules of civil society. Just look at what happened the next day: An artist in Rotterdam improvised a wall fresco that consisted of an angel and the words "Thou Shalt Not Kill." The local imam protested, and local authorities removed the fresco.

That's what happens when a culture is relativized to the point of suicide. As Daniel Patrick Moynihan once remarked of an American politician, "he can no longer distinguish between our friends and our enemies, and so he has ended by adopting our enemies' view of the world." This has now befallen Europe, which cannot distinguish between free societies — their natural friends — like the United States and Israel, and has ended by embracing enemies such as the radical Islamist regimes and elevating Yasser Arafat to near beatific stature.

I think multiculturalism is a good idea but, like most things, it's bad if taken to the extreme of absolute political correctness (like forcing the removal of the "Thou shalt not kill" mural in Rotterdam). Somehow it seems that common sense gets tossed aside in a such a PC climate.

I believe a degree of sensiti

I believe a degree of sensitivity is necessary, but not to that extreme (though it could be argued that it isn't very politically correct to remove the mural if the government didn't put it up).
In a huge country like America, where there's still so much isolation, it's hard for many to see the need for much sensitivity a la "political correctness" if other kinds of people are at a safe distance and mind there own business.
The term political correctness has been belittled by people like Rush Limbaugh and others. Of course it's possible to take it too far, but anti-politcal correctness people run the risk of inoculating themselves against a quality of character that is particularly Christian and sorely needed in our society. That of caring about how you come across to others and adjusting your behavior accordingly so they don't feel marginalized.

Other semi-related thoughts:
We as Latter-Day Saints have a lot to overcome with the apostasy because much of the world has been trained with pavlovian precision that Christianity leads to supremist thinking, injustice and needless bloodshed. To put it bluntly, Christianity was yesterday's
Islam and the Popes were the Osama Bin Ladens. It's no wonder many Europeans are thinking "anything but that". Again, it amazes me that we are so politically cozy with Christians who don't even attempt to disassociate themselves from Christian history and terms like "crusade" which they continually resurrect.

Is the war in Iraq just a politcally correct way of carrying the gospel to the Midddle East, since (as I hope we all agree) that it's wrong to compel others to accept our religion? Is Bush just doing the crusade part which he believe in and we're just waiting to do the converting part later? I'm reminded of good ole' Columbus. Though he is on record as being a scumbag of the lowest order, the Book of Mormon said he was moved upon by the Spirit. He did the Lord's dirty work and being a dirty guy he was well suited to that (i.e. drive the Lamanites with particular relish and enthusiasm) Then America is founded, the gospel is restored and spread, etc. If you buy into this I would ask, does Bush need to be any less of a creep for his part in the current situation or do you feel a need to justify his behavior? I'm talking strictly in spiritual terms here. If someone like Columbus can act on his terrible inclinations which ultimately help realize God's purposes why should we rush to take sides in the current and finite political tug-of-war. Why should Bush be treated like some kind of honorary Mormon folk hero when his doctrine is screwed up and dangerous? Many of the accusations the left levels at the fundamentalist right are correct because they refer to the apostasy mentality.
Points to ponder....
I at least am starting to really see the Church's wisdom in not taking sides politically. Heck, if the war is as important and moral as many of us say why wouldn't the prophet come out and say it?
Maybe the war isn't such a big deal, maybe it's just a link in a chain. Maybe man's folly is just being put to good use.

What did I say that

led you to believe that if something is popular, it must be right??
I'm not following you on the white land owner thing.
Not Christianity as a whole, just apostate Christianity.
They continue to associate themselves with those events, so it is
a current issue. At least with the crusades. They also continually
claim the right of being irrational because they believe faith is
superior. Again LDS doctrine shows it is not.
These issues should weigh heavily on our political thinking but
for some weird reason, they don't. Weird.

Intolerance and popularity

I guess I'm following the argument of intolerance. Abortion is a "popular" idea. Gay rights is a "popular" idea. And the left argues that the religious right is intolerant towards these practices.

Historically, white male land owners in the south were both racist and very intolerant of any form of change. To use the left's argument that Christianity historically is backwards and intolerant, and therefore it is still wrong now would be the equivalent of saying that white male land owners should be treated with disdain as well.

The left attacks the religious right, and they base their views of Christianity on the apostate church, which as a whole pretty much represents Christianity. Obviously, the apostate churches historically have been egregiously wrong in their actions, but to base the modern view of Christianity as a whole on the failings of the history of the apostate churches is like judging Islam on a whole based off of terrorism.

Now, in my readings and watchings I haven't heard or seen the religious right call the war on terrorism a crusade, or that because our faith is superior therefore we can do as we please. If that is the case, then I shall bite my tongue and say no more.

My point is that we shouldn't

My point is that we shouldn't fault the left for basing their concept of Christianity on fact.
Again, there is a mental disconnect that allows for fundamentalism that the Christian right actually welcomes in favor of so-called faith, not to mention the current use of the word "crusade", etc. We don't need to excuse the apostasy in the least as Mormons, far from it.
We have a different and more reasonable and tolerant doctrine. We don't need to follow the
right's party line, we can think through these things, and we must.

Let me make one thing clear. I am utterly in agreement with the brethren and the doctrine of the church. I am a member of the church in good standing and I intend to stay that way. I just don't think we are obligated to agree with the Christian right on every political issue any more than we are to agree with them theologically and I think sometimes we try to do so at the expense of our own better judgement and doctrine. Nor should we disagree with everything the progressive left believes because some of it is closer to our doctrine than what the right says. We need to think, think, think.

means to the Lord's end

You present a bunch of points which would make for good discussion ... but for the moment I'm interested in this link in a chain thing.

Maybe this is overly obvious and simple, but here's my thought: For the sake of the discussion, let's suppose that we're positive of the fact that Bush is totally out of line concerning Iraq, but we're also positive that for some reason it's God's plan for things to happen this way. In this scenario, how should we respond?

I'd say we should behave exactly as we would if we had no knowledge of what God's plan was: oppose him. The parts of God's plan that involve people doing wicked things don't need our assistance to ensure their occurrence--they'll happen eventually regardless of what we do--whereas the parts of his plan that are contingent on our carrying them out (like temple & missionary work) do need our help, or they just won't happen.

(Now I know that God's plan will function as He intends it to regardless of what we may do individually, but if somehow as a collective we were to shirk our responsibilities it would not--but that won't happen.)

Yeah, so anyway, Joe, I'm curious to know what you mean here:

Many of the accusations the left levels at the fundamentalist right are correct because they refer to the apostasy mentality.

Are you talking about claims of Christianity causing more harm than good etc? I'm just not sure if I understood what you meant here. But anyway, that's a good point ... a lot of their claims are justified if you choose your sample right, which is something that makes sitting in our shoes so frustrating: we can see even more clearly that they're getting it all wrong. The signal to noise ratio coming from the religious world is so poor that it causes many rational truth seekers to throw their hands up in disgust at the ignorance they see.

Now, about:

Heck, if the war is as important and moral as many of us say why wouldn't the prophet come out and say it?

I personally don't believe that I--or anyone else here--has argued that the war is highly moral, just that it's better than not going to war. Though with how heated our exchanges have gotten at times I can see how you might begin to think that way.

And yes, i do think it's very smart that the Church doesn't endorse these sorts of things even though they could potentially be righteous causes. Doing so would be like the Church endorsing the arm of flesh ... or better said, endorsing a particular endeavor of man which is guaranteed to be imperfect. The Church teaches truth ... and leaves us to implement it. So it also makes sense that when it comes to a moral issue like gay marriage where there is a definite good side and evil side, the Church releases a statement saying it is against it, but it doesn't talk about particular legislation, etc, which is bound to be a less than perfect implementation of law regardless of whether it's generally in line with the Church's views or not.

Anyway, a few thoughts there ... hopefully i'm making some sense here.

Waaaay Overdue.

Sorry that this response is so long overdue. Anyway:

About the war seeming so moral:
People have said that they believe the Prophet has given support for the war in his General Conference remarks, so I would classify that as believing the war is highly moral, yes.

What I meant by the remark about the left's criticisms of the religious right being based on
the apostate history of Christianity is that because of the atrocities committed by the "church"
during the apostasy they (the left, and for that matter, the right) have a scewed view of what Christianity is. And without LDS doctrine there is absolutely no way for mainstream Christians to dig themselves out of that hole, and incredibly they're not even trying, judging by their continued use of terms like "crusade" (English for Jihad, basically). As Saints it is folly for us to be in bed with these people politically. The left is correct about many of it's criticisms
because judging from history, mainstream Christianity is backward, intolerant, Jihadist, witch-hunters. Again, only LDS doctrine puts this into it's proper perspective. (If they decide to declare Jihad for Jesus, guess who they're coming after? - probably us) I think you get my point...

Highly Moral War

We need to make something clear here Joe. I don't know anybody who thinks that they war is highly moral. What I and others have quoted does not mean that we have jumped into the deep end of the pool. I personally believe that the war is justified, and what President Hinkley has said supports that view. War is not preferred, but at times it is necessary.

The left's criticism of the relgious right in a historical context may be right, but to use that same logic, any white land-owner in a former slave state should recieve the similar criticism about being a racist and intolerant towards change. And to use the crusades or witch-hunting as a knock against Christianity as a whole is pure crap. Crusades were in the 1200s, the witch hunters were around the 1600s, both well over 400 years away from modern history.

Intolerance? Abortion, gay rights, drugs, alternative lifestyles of all kinds... So the relgious right saying that these things are wrong makes them intolerant? Fine, line me up with them, because I don't condone murder, sodomy, the attack on marriage or anything else that supports immorality of any kind. Just because it is popular doesn't make it right.